Virginia Resident Sues U.S. Fish and Wildlife to Protect Bald Eagle Pair

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Provided by Amber Taylor

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A federal lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Department of Interior (DOI) for authorizing and allowing the disturbance of an active and occupied nest of a pair of bald eagles in Manassas, Virginia. The eagles’ nest sits on city parkland in a tree adjoining the property being developed. By issuing FWS letter dated July 16, 2015, the defendants allowed the developer of the land to clear and grade the area within a few feet of the tree without a permit, and to subsequently erect two 40,000-square-foot warehouse buildings beginning mid-July 2016.

According to Nokesville resident and plaintiff, Amber Taylor, by allowing this activity without requiring any basic remediation measures to ensure the health and safety of the eagles, the defendants’ decision was in direct violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). As a result of the defendants’ unlawful actions, the eagles have been constantly harassed and disturbed by equipment noises, excessive human activity, erection of buildings in the eagles’ flight paths, and the destruction of their habitat, foraging and feeding grounds.

In Ms. Taylor’s words, “The Manassas bald eagles smartly chose to build their nest in the Cannon Branch Fort Park. They did not choose to nest near two warehouses that are, and will continue to be, a source of long-term, ongoing disturbances. Fish and Wildlife has failed to protect the exact species in their charge and has ignored every request for assistance from concerned citizens since April 2016. The eagles now have an attorney.”

Manassas resident, author, and filmmaker Victor Rook, as well as several other residents, has documented the on-going construction since it began in mid-July of this year. “I’ve filmed both the construction of the buildings and these eagles during the morning, noon, and evening for over 80 days throughout the summer. The eagles routinely leave the nest once construction gets underway and most often only return in the evening when the workers have left. This is a definite change in their behavior from previous years,” says Rook.

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